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Your 12-week scan can be any time from 10-13 weeks. It’s designed to show the age and size of your baby, the number of babies in utero (gulp!), the development of the foetus and the health of the placenta.
You may also be offered a nuchal test, where the sonographer measures the amount of fluid at the base of the baby’s neck, as too much fluid can be a potential marker for Down’s Syndrome and other genetic disorders.
What happens during the scan?
Before the scan you'll be asked to drink lots of water so you have a full bladder - this puts the uterus in a better position to be scanned. This can be a bit of an uncomfortable challenge if your scanning clinic has particularly long waiting times.
You'll be asked to lie down for the scan itself, and the sonographer will rub some sticky, clear (and cold!) jelly over your abdomen.
When it comes to the actual scan you will lie on your back and then some sticky, clear jelly will be rubbed over your abdomen. The ultrasound's transducer - a hand-held device - is moved over your belly and bounces high-frequency sound waves off your belly to create a picture on the monitor. Don't worry, it's painless and there's no evidence it harms you or your baby.
The clarity of the picture depends on a number of things, for instance if you have any abdominal scarring the picture may not be as clear. You will be able to watch the monitor and see the first pictures of your baby, which is an extraordinary moment, whether it’s your first or final baby.
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It may not be immediately obvious which parts of your baby you're looking at, but the sonographer will be able to help you work it out. He or she may need to prod your belly a bit to 'encourage' the baby into a suitable position.
The ultrasound scan is a great milestone in your pregnancy and it is great to share it with your partner. You may have had reservations about the test and be worried about the results, so it can be a great comfort to see your baby on screen and have the reassurance that everything is alright.
Some hospitals will sell you a copy of your scan image so you can go and show everyone the very first picture of your sproglet-to-be.
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Find out what you can expect from antenatal scans
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